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Sexual Perversity in Chicago & The Duck Variations

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,423 ratings  ·  40 reviews

David Mamet is one of America's most celebrated playwrights. The author of plays, screenplays, poetry, essays, and children's books, he has won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross.

The Obie award-winning Sexual Perversity in Chicago is about two male office workers, Danny and Bernie, on the make in the swinging singles scene of the early 1970's

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Paperback, 125 pages
Published January 31st 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Lila
I was, for some unknown reason, moved by and sort of obsessed with the film "About Last Night" when I was a kid. For better or worse (probably worse), this flawed but still unique and underrated Brat-Packer film, set in 80's Chicago - shaped my ideas of adult sexuality. The way Demi Moore (flat as an IRONING BOARD in her many nude scenes, by the way) and Rob Lowe (oh-so teen-vampire-hot in this era, even tho in this movie he doesn't wear the little dangly cross earring from "St. Elmo's Fire") fa ...more
Hannah Gold
The opening sequence of Sexual Perversity in Chicago is quite hilarious, but after that nothing else really is (in either play). Nothing else is really all that good either. Sexual Perversity feels extremely tired out and predictable. It's about two guys and two gals who are in various relationships (sometimes with each other). The guys talk about sex and their feelings (definitely in that order), and the gals talk about their feelings. The show is just very male. Hey, no problem, but, no, there ...more
Robert
I loved this play when I read it in high school. That we were able to read something that was this edgy was something we teenagers liked a lot. This also was a nice follow-up to Mamet's American Buffalo, which I had read previously (of course, Mamet wrote it after).

A few years later the Brat Pack starred in something that was based on this play, but it was a shell of this wonderful work.
Peter H. Fogtdal
Nov 21, 2008 Peter H. Fogtdal rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Perverts and people who love great dialogue.
I directed this play in college. I was a theatre major and the title alone pulled the audience in. Sexual Perversity is from before Mamet got famous. Back then he was just another playwright with Harold Pinter in his blood. But God, what dialogue that man writes. And he's also a pretty good director. Go see State and Main or The Spanish Prisoner. Or read this "perverse" play from the seventies.
Rick Homuth
His dialogue is great and all, and obviously I'm all about the Chicago thing, but the whole thing seems exhaustingly misogynistic. Not just the two men, either, because I think he's trying to lampoon blatant sexism to an extent, but there's this whole separate level of "Oooooh men are like THIS, and women are like THIS, and the latter use what little personal agency they're given as characters to be too EMOTIONAL, while the former just wanna bust nuts and don't understand why women are so DIFFIC ...more
Curtis
Mamet examines the topics of sex and death, youth and old age in the early 1970s with such honesty that his words do not feel dated at all.

I was fortunate to find this edition which contains the two plays, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “The Duck Variations” because they SHOULD be read together. They bookend each other perfectly, since they both deal with how we chose to confront death by living the lives we live.

“Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is about how youth and inexperience can cause p
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Dave Logghe
I love David Mamet's writing, he is the playwright equivalent of Aaron Sorkin for me. His dialogue is stylized, snappy and original. Of these two plays, I think Sexual Perversity in Chicago is superior. On the surface it seems to just be about a misogynist pig named Bernie and his slightly less perverse friend Dan. But when you dig into some of the dialogue and look for the subtle hints and tells, there's a much deeper story about the insecurities of men and how they handle them. I loved that it ...more
Daniel Sloyan
Neither really have much of a plot, rather are just a series of conversations, in Sexual, Bernard is almost misogynistic in his views on women, tho I guess there are guys like that, and duck variations is just 2 old guys talking, maybe it meant something bigger but I didn't get it, at least they're both short, good if you like mamet's dialogue
Lluvia Almanza
I am personally not a fan of Mamet's writing. I thought "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" was pretty funny and "The Duck Variations" was alright. If you are a fan of his writing you'll probably enjoy it more than me.
larrytheimp
Mamet's kind of a bit more of an over the top "tough guy" writer than I usually like, but this play is a nice read. The dialogue is really edgy and sharp; this is fun to read if for no reason other than to see some really cool dialogue.

Mamet's especially good here when he's writing two characters talking past each other, not really listening to the other character but working out their own internal issues.

If this is being performed at a university near you for an affordable price it is surely
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Josh Drimmer
Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a play that actually changed American theater forever.

The Duck Variations is two old people talking about ducks.
Kaethe
I'm really not a huge Mamet fan. And frankly, I was disappointed not to encounter some real sexual perversity here.
David
The Duck Variations isn’t so much a play as a series of scenes, but they’re brilliant. Two old men watch ducks in the park and argue about death, purpose, friendship, and the meaning of life. Mamet’s inimitable dialogue (uncharacteristically vulgarity-free) makes the Variations a real treat. The only edition I could find came bound with Sexual Perversity in Chicago. On balance, it's worth the embarrassment of having the title on your bookshelf.
Heather
This was the first play I ever worked on in NY when I was in class. I was nineteen and so in love with my scene partner I could barely look at anyone else when he was in the room. Oh, back to the play S. P is a must read for any actor and the subject matter is something we can all relate to.. and its penned by David Mamet!!! Does not get better than that
Gerard
Jan 27, 2011 Gerard added it
Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a play with gritty dialogue and drama that gets straight to the point with plenty of room room for moments of off-beat humor. Overall, a wonderful play.

The Duck Variations is a slice of life play with moments of thought-provoking existentialism. This play is my play of preference between the two plays.
Oliver
I ganked this copy from a roomate on accident and enjoyed both of these plays although I'm still haven't jumped on the Mamet bandwagon. Sexual Perversity suffers from it's attempt at conveying real male speech. The open ended philosophical ramblings of Duck Variations is occasionaly engaging but often comes off as Beckett Jr.
Michael
It's amazing to consider how they stripped this play in order to make the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore movie, About Last Night. The play is darkly funny and pulls absolutely no punches, but there's definitely something there.

Duck Variations didn't do much for me, as it felt one note and too simple.
Larry Mingione
Everybody thinks of Mamet's language when they think about his plays (and screenplays), but what about the relationships between the characters. They are very sharp in this play. Had to go out and rent and see Wag the Dog after this.
Aaron France
May 28, 2007 Aaron France rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Sexual Perversity is hilarious, strongly worded (duh), and scathing in it's own way. The Duck Variations is not the best Mamet play but it is still readable. Perhaps if the plays were presented in opposite order...
Dominique
Going to be fun directing 14 year old girls in duck variations. Just want them to know there is more to theatre than the libretto of "Wicked", which a couple of them carry around like a bible.
Gregory Knapp
BERNIE:
So at this point, we don't know. Pro, semi-pro,
Betty Coed from College, regular young broad, it's
anybody's ballgame. So, anyway, up we go.
Rachael
The Duck Variations is probably one of my favorite plays. It's like Waiting for Godot, but with more randomness and less depression.
Victoria
I made it half way through this book and was DONE. I like edgy material, but these plays were so sexist. Yuck.
Edward
This is one of those rare cases when the movie (About Last Night) was leaps and bounds better than the play/book
Rahadyan
I'll cop to the fact that I saw About Last Night ... before I read the play on which it is based.
Brandon
I love Mamet's dialogue. Now I want to do SPiC and play Bernie. The Duck Variations was interesting.
Jay Szpirs
This was my first exposure to David Mamet. Great dialogue but lacks the punch of DM's later work.
Kirsta
I didn't read Sexual Perversion in Chicago, but The Duck Variations is one of my favorite plays
Kevin
My favorite is Sexual Perversity in Chicago. It's like the original "Swingers". Love it.
cassie
but the duck variations and only read by an old/young man on the backporch at sunset.
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David Alan Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. His works are known for their clever, terse, sometimes vulgar dialogue and arcane stylized phrasing, as well as for his exploration of masculinity.

As a playwright, he received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for Th
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